RGIII Chronicles | Back when the season was young, when the sun still felt warm against the skin, Damian Taylor didn’t dream of leaving his house to watch a Redskins game. Why should he? Taylor has a basement in his Fort Washington home that doubles as his own personal stadium — a nine-foot wide high-definition projection screen dominates the room; a half dozen burgundy reclining chairs flank the TV; crisp-sounding speakers are built into the walls — and the experience inside the fabulous playpen would dwarf pretty much anything happening somewhere else.
But by the time the Redskins took the field against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night in a winner-take-all matchup for the NFC East title and a playoff spot, Taylor had abandoned his private cave and staked out a spot at Bar Louie in Northwest. The officer in the Air Force Reserve carefully picked out a seat in the spacious Chinatown restaurant, gladly giving up the seclusion of his basement getaway and losing himself in a sea of frenzied, beer-swilling fans.
“It’s the only reason I came out,” said Taylor, a burgundy RG3 jersey pulled over his dress shirt. “This is a huge event. I just wanted to soak in the excitement and experience the city. This is do or die.”
Against a bitter division rival and with a nationally-televised audience tuned in to the NFL’s regular season finale, the Redskins exploded for 21 second-half points to pull away late from the Cowboys, 28-18, at FedEx Field.They will host the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday in the playoffs.
Perhaps jitters or his injured right knee—or both—contributed to a sub-par passing performance by Griffin. The Heisman Trophy winner completed nine of 18 passes for only 100 yards.
But he did make enough big plays to help lead his team to victory. Griffin, who was selected to the Pro Bowl last week, ran for 63 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run in the third-quarter that gave Washington the lead for good.
A career day by running back Alfred Morris carried the team. The 173rd overall pick in April’s draft gained 200 yards on the ground, pushing his season total to 1,613. That broke the franchise’s single-season rushing mark set by Clinton Portis in 2005. Morris also scored three rushing touchdowns.
The standing-room-only Bar Louie crowd jumped to its feet and turned the volume up to deafening levels when Morris hammered his way into the end zone from one yard out with just over a minute left in the game. In one lunging motion, Morris stretched Washington’s lead to 28-18, and effectively handed the Redskins (10-6) their first division title since 1999 and first playoff appearance since 2007 and made Deborah Girma throw both of her hands in the air before bearhugging her friends.
“I’m a huge Morris fan,” said Girma, a research assistant at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “When they make those plays and they’re maneuvering like that, that’s exciting.”
The Redskins gave their fans very little to get excited about in the first half. Kicker Kai Forbath missed a 37-yard field goal try. The player who had fast developed a reputation as one of the most dependable players on the team — Forbath had made 17 straight field goals entering Sunday — made fans at Bar Louie drop their jaws in disbelief and groan when he failed to put seemingly automatic points on the board.
“I was surprised. I think [Forbath] was surprised,” Taylor said with a laugh.
Washington’s defense, which has ranked near the bottom of the NFL all season, was opportunistic on Sunday, intercepting Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo twice in the first half. But the struggling offense failed to convert either one of them into points.
The defense intercepted Romo one more time in the second half and Redskins fans celebrated while the Dallas fans in the building could only shake their heads. With the Cowboys (8-8) trailing 21-18 and looking to strike once more with 3:35 left in the game, Romo threw the ball to his left while falling backward to avoid pressure and sent the pass into the waiting hands of Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson.
Moments later, the television cameras showed a close-up of Romo sitting on the bench with his head down.
“That man gone cry!” said Alex DeCaul while pointing at the screen. “Romo gave us all the turnovers we needed. This man was just giving it to us like ‘Here you go!’”
As the final seconds ticked off the clock and the Redskins wrapped up their seventh straight win after a frustrating 3-6 start, fans at Bar Louie bounced on their bar stools and in the aisles as they erupted in applause one more time. Some sang “Hail to the Redskins!” while an enthusiastic group near the entrance chanted “RG3!”
DeCaul pecked out a few tweets on her cell phone, bragging about the result. She said she couldn’t wait for her friends who are Cowboys fans to read them.
“We’re going to the playoffs!” said DeCaul, adding that she only became a Redskins fan this season, mainly because of RG3. “I’m going to buy my first official jersey this week so I can wear it for when we go to the Super Bowl.”
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